This is a time of massive interest in hemp. In the next few years the market for hemp related products will multiply many times.
Hemp, here we are talking about industrial hemp, is a variety of a plant specie known as “Cannabis Sativa”. It is a cousin to the popular “Cannabis Indica” (marijuana) however they are not the same. Sativa is the strongest fiber in the plant kingdom. It is harmless for it cannot be used as a recreational drug because it contains very little to none of the psychoactive compound THC, therefore it does not alter your state in any way.
A long history
Hemp has been used for thousands of years in ancient civilizations like Egypt, China, Japan, Greece and Europe. It was common for canvas paper and rope making. It was not until recently that it became associated with its narcotic cousin marijuana and therefore banned in many countries. It was once the world’s largest agricultural crop, however the introduction of cotton which was and still is more expensive and that of nylon replaced it.
-The first constitution of America was written on hemp canvas paper
-Hemp was grown for at least 12000 years for fiber but effectively prohibited in the USA since the 1950’s
-George Washington and Thomas Jefferson both grew hemp for paper
-Canada Licensed for production in 1998
-Great Britain lifted Hemp prohibition in 1993
-China was the earliest region to cultivate and use Hemp, from the earliest primitive
societies Qin to Hah dynasties developing hemp sowing and processing techniques.
Uses of Hemp
There are hundreds of uses of hemp. Here are some of the main ones
Food especially as a powder
Animal feed and bedding
Construction with hemp bricks or hempcrete
An incredibly healthy food
Hemp seed is the only edible part of the plant. It can be consumed raw roasted or cooked. Hemp seed is 30% oil and it can be pressed for oil that is low in saturated fats and rich in protein and other nutrients. Seeds can also be processed to make snack bars,hemp milk,cookies,flour,porridge,brewed coffee or beer and condiments.
The press cake makes a very rich meal for animal feed, birds and other herbivorous livestock included. The bulky fiber makes 100% natural, low dust super absorbent and bio-degradeable animal bedding for pets and livestock.
Hemp can provide two types of fuel, Hemp biodiesel (fuel that runs in any conventional unmodified diesel engine) it is made from the hemp seed. The other one being Hemp ethanol or methanol made from the bulky fermented stalk. The world still debates whether it is economically feasible or not due the energy output and other factors but it is undeniable that it is a sustainable alternative and probably most cost-efficient and valuable of all fuel crops if we could grow it on a large scale. Hemp wicks are also used for lighting
The basic building block of plastic is cellulose taken from Petroleum, but toxic petrochemical compositions are not the only way to derive plastics. Since Hemp is the greatest cellulose producer on Earth it only makes sense to make non-toxic biodegradable plastic from Hemp and other organics. Perhaps Zimbabwe can make its own organic diapers now!
Hemp paper is sustainable as it produces more in comparison to tree pulp. Hemp is used for printing, cigarette filters, newsprint, packaging, netting, canvas art and money printing.
The Long hemp fiber makes it ideal for textiles it is woven into durable, antibacterial airy and well insulated fabric. Hemp garments are suitable for both summer and winter. By contrast cotton fibers are shorter in length and prone to faster wear and tear. Fabrics provide UV protection. Hemp makes shoes, bags, socks, blankets and technical textiles like cordage, netting, ropes, canvas, twine, webbing and wicking
Construction and even cars
Hemp fiber can make building products such as Hempcrete, geopanels, lime mortars, Industrial hemp oil, mulch, insulation boards, roof tiles and fiber boards. Companies like BMW, AUDI and FORD have since experimented with Hemp fiber to make lighter, durable and recyclable automobile bodies and parts like fiber glass screens, upholstery and doors.
It is possible to produce dozens of different body care products of hemp such as soap,shampoo,hand cream and skin care products that have UV light protection effect.
Hemp has a wide range of medicinal characteristics. Hemp seed oil contains beneficial components such as sterols, aliphatic alcohols and linoleic acids. Omega-3 fatty acid being one of linoleic acids has been recognized as preventing coronary heart disease. Sterols lower cholesterol levelshence lowering the risk of heart attack. The aliphatic alcohol like phytol is associated with antioxidant and anticancer benefits. Among other benefits hempseed oil is effective for dermatological conditions and lipid metabolism.
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